In the world of Formula One, everybody knows the name Kimi Raikkonen. After all, this Finnish driver has been around in the sport for more than a decade now. It is no wonder that he has attracted the attention of several teams throughout his career. Over the years, the one-time Formula One champion has already driven for Sauber, McLaren, Lotus, and Ferrari.
Even now in his late thirties, Kimi remains in fighting form. In fact, he feels that he still has what it takes to win races, which was proved last season with the result from the United States Grand Prix. As the Finn returns to Sauber for 2019, let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts behind this driver who is also known on the track as the Ice Man.
1. HE STARTED DRIVING AT A VERY EARLY AGE
Like other impressive drivers in Formula One history, Kimi Raikkonen also started his career in racing fairly early in life. In fact, the official Ferrari website reports that he tried karting for the first time when he was only three years old. Back then, all he had to work on was a simple pedal kart. That didn’t matter one bit, however. A young Raikkonen was very much eager to dominate the circuit with it.
Raikkonen kept at it until he became a true karting success. In 1998, he won the Nordic Kart Championship in Varna, Norway. This was followed up by another win in 1999 when he finished second in the European Formula Super A Karting Championship.
2. HIS FIRST RACE OUTSIDE OF HIS HOME COUNTRY WAS QUITE MEMORABLE
After kart racing for several years, Raikkonen decided to show off his driving skills outside the country. This led him to his very first race outside of Finland when he was only 15 years old, according to Motorsport. The race took place in Monaco and proved to be one of Raikkonen’s most memorable yet. During the course of the race, the steering wheel on Raikkonen’s car unexpectedly broke. This, however, did not deter the young Finn. Instead, he continued racing and informed his mechanic of the problem by waving his steering wheel frantically in the air.
Not long after, Raikkonen had another memorable race in Monaco. This time, he was reportedly thrown during a collision. Determined to keep racing, Raikkonen lifted his kart back to the track. In the end, he finished in third place.
3. A SINGLE SEATER WAS ALL HE NEEDED
After achieving victory in a number of karting races, it soon became evident that it was time for Raikkonen to switch to a single seater car. It seems this is what led him to compete in the Formula Renault UK Championship in 2000. According to Renault Sport, th series was developed to cater to the needs of drivers who have just finished competing in the entry level and/or karting series.
In the case of Raikkonen, he immediately showed that he was more than ready to compete. In fact, a record from Motor Sport Winners reveals that the Finn driver won seven of the 12 races that year. This was absolutely good enough to win him the 2000 championship.
4. AFTER HIS FORMULA RENAULT VICTORY, FORMULA ONE TOOK NOTICE
Once you have managed to win a UK Formula Renault Championship, you can expect the prestigious Formula One to take notice. This is exactly what happened to Kimi after his 2000 victory.
His win earned him the opportunity to take part in various tests with the Sauber Formula One team in 2001. In no time, Raikkonen won them over as the team was impressed with his pace on the track. Shortly after, Sauber decided to sign Raikkonen to become their driver that same year. During this time, many reportedly questioned his readiness to race, according to Formula One. This is because he seemed to have taken an unconventionally short route to one of the top motorsport championships in the world. However, Raikkonen proved he was worthy of the spot by finishing in sixth place during his grand prix debut.
5. HE WAS VIEWED AS A SUCCESSOR TO ANOTHER REMARKABLE FINN DRIVER
It seems Kimi’s entry into the world of Formula One coincided with the retirement of a legendary Formula One driver who also happens to be a Finn. During this time, Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen was set to retire after winning two championships. This is why Hakkinen’s team, McLaren, was eagerly looking for his successor. Upon seeing Raikkonen race, they knew that they had found one. As he continued to race, experts praised him for his expert driving style. He managed to finish second in the championship in 2003 and 2005. Overall, his time at McLaren resulted in as many as nine race wins and 36 top three finishes. Despite his victories, however, Raikkonen rarely spoke out and simply kept to himself.
6. HE CONTINUED RACING EVEN AFTER HE LEFT FORMULA ONE
It seems that for Raikkonen, as long as there’s a track ahead of him, he would be more than happy to race. In fact, he joined the World Rally Championship in 2010 and immediately became a driver for the Citroen Junior team alongside driver Kaj Lindstrom.
In 2011, Kimi also decided to stay in the World Rally Championship. This time, he raced for his own team, ICE 1 Racing. Nonetheless, he continued to race in a Citroen car. Meanwhile, 2011 also saw Raikkonen become a NASCAR driver at the Camping World Truck Series. Raikkonen signed on with the Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota team for a limited schedule in the championship’s Truck Series.
7. HE HAS A NEED FOR SPEED
There’s no question about it, Raikkonen loves speed. In fact, he even likes to experience it on and off the track. This is probably why his current team Sauber decided to treat him to a fighter jet ride with the Royal Australian Air Force before his track debut at the Australian Grand Prix, according to a report from CNN. Aside from this, his official website says that Raikkonen also enjoys going on motorbikes and pushbikes. He also loves participating in winter sports, especially when he gets to go on a snowmobile or a pair of skis.
Meanwhile, Kimi also participated in some powerboat racing while competing under the pseudonym “James Hunt.” He also made sure to make a statement during the event by racing while wearing a gorilla suit. As you could expect, Raikkonen and his team were awarded the best-dressed crew.
8. HE HAS GOTTEN INTO SOME TROUBLE OFF THE TRACK
While Kimi has been known to be quiet and slightly snobbish on the track, the former champion seems to be the exact opposite off the track. In fact, he has gotten into trouble with the media because of the way he handles his private life.
According to a report from The Mirror, Raikkonen and his friends were inside the London Mayfair club For Your Eyes Only when the Finn driver pulled out his manhood and played with himself in front of two lap dancers. The manager of the club was shocked at what he saw. “I thought I’d seen most things in the lap dancing game but when I saw one of the world’s top racing drivers sprawled there with his trousers undone I couldn’t believe it,” he said during the interview.